Emotions and Emphysema

Being Diagnosed

When I was diagnosed with emphysema I was pretty sure I was doomed, I was going to die, it would be soon and it was all my fault. I had smoked for 30 years. I didn’t think I could quit. I had even had Spontaneous Pneumothorax several times, a Plebectomy and still didn’t quit. To be fair the pulmonologist at the time told me that my collapsed lungs were not the results of me smoking. Collapsed lungs are not fun. Besides I was told a long time ago that one you had Emphysema there was no reason to quit anymore.


I was scared, confused, and heck, if you are going to die it is hard to feel anything, but upset and depressed. The support system I thought I had wasn’t there for me. I had my husband and kids, they were a huge support for me, but being total mom I did not want to burden them with how I really felt. I was not someone who had a lot of friends, online friends don’t always really care and my sister wasn’t there as I thought she would be. To be fair everyone has their own problems, but I felt very alone. I continued to feel very alone, discarded almost for about a year. Then I decided to take control of my disease.

Your Are Not Your illness

I read a book called “You Are Not Your Illness” by Linda Noble Topf, M.A. and finally felt like I had a purpose, a way of coping. Even though her illness is different than mine it gave me a jumping point. My pulmonologist sent me to Pulmonary Rehab and that too help. Then I had the Head of Pulmonology at my hospital say “Its your choice, you are in Charge” I finally felt in charge of my disease.

The frantic, need to get it done today because tomorrow I might keel over, left. I am still left with anxiety that I never had before. The impeding doom type of anxiety. I was in a store once and felt like there was something bad going to happen and I had to leave immediately. what a weird feeling. the logical part of my brain said, “Nothing wrong here” the emotions said “got to go right now”.

Anxiety and Depression

It turns out that anxiety and depression are common emotions with a chronic illness like emphysema and copd. It is important to know that. The anxiety I experience, and you might experience, causes your to breath shallow and fast. so not good for us folks who don’t need to add to the carbon dioxide in our lungs. doing so makes it harder to breath which causes more anxiety. See?

Better Breathers Club

What to do? Talk to your doctor about depressions, sad thoughts and anxiety. Some of the medicines you take might contribute to these feelings. In my case it was a deadly life threatening disease which is Emphysema and my meds. You can join a group with others who have COPD. There are many out there in person and on line. I recommend the American Lung Association Better Breathers Club. It is comforting to know that others have the same challenges you do.

I have learned that my emotions are not unique that others have the same challenges that I do living with lung disease. That anxiety is something I can control and when I have an attack, I have learned tricks to calm myself and my breathing. When I feel lonely and sad, I reach out to others. when I spend time helping others I also spend time helping myself. I do not have to live with both lung disease and feeling bad. Neither do you.


I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist or any other professional. I am just a gal who has lung disease and I can only share my experience, strength and hope. Please check with your doctor(s) before making any changes!